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Review article

Poetry of social engagement: Philip Freneau and the American War of Independence

Violeta M. Janjatović ; Državni univerzitet u Novom Pazaru

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page 55-70

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Starting with the changes in British colonial policy, which began in the second half of the eighteenth century, and which related to taxes and regulation of trade and government, from the Declaration of Independence to the end of the Revolutionary War poets actively participated in the revolutionary struggle. Although they fought using words rather than arms, their poems, satires, and parodies had the power to shape public opinion, political positions, the nature of patriotism, and an understanding of freedom. According to Colin Wells’s study Poetry Wars: Verse and Politics in the American Revolution and Early Republic, which emphasizes the importance of poetry’s social engagement in shaping the American public sphere during the second half of the eighteenth century, this article examines the role of the patriotic satires, poems, and pamphlets of Philip Freneau, one of the foremost authors of the American revolutionary period. The works penned by this great fighter for American independence marked every stage of the battle with England but also mocked the internal conflicts between the Whigs and the Tories in the civil war that was fought simultaneously with the War of Independence. In the style and tradition of English Romanticism, but introducing the specific voice of America, Freneau wrote about the new world and the freedom he fought for, and he created democracy in verse in which the sensibility of the young American nation could develop smoothly.


Philip Freneau; the War of Independence; poetry; rhetoric; patriots; loyalists

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